UN-HABITAT launched the Water and Sanitation Trust Fund in October 2002 to help governments meet their commitment to the water target of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). That target seeks “to reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and sanitation by the year 2015”. The Trust Fund’s activities are directed at creating smarter water policies and increased investment in water and sanitation for the urban poor.
The establishment of a Water and Sanitation Trust Fund in UN-HABITAT is aimed at enhancing the agency’s effectiveness around the world by giving donors the chance to contribute funds to a facility dedicated to a well-defined goal and a clear set of objectives fully compatible with the donor’s own funding priorities.
The need for the fund is urgent because for the first time, the majority of the world’s population is living in cities, and this proportion continues to grow. Putting this into numbers, in 1990 fewer than 4 in 10 people lived in urban areas. In 2010, more than half live in cities, and by 2050 this proportion will grow to 7 out of every 10 people. The number of urban residents is growing by nearly 60 million every year. At the same time, cities concentrate certain risks and health hazards. The impact of adverse effects, especially contamination of the water supply is amplified in densely populated urban settings. And it is amplified still further in slums in the developing world.
The Trust Fund’s vision therefore is to achieve “expanded access to environmentally sound basic urban infrastructure services with a special focus on the unserved and underserved populations”.
The Trust Fund’s mission is to create a hospitable environment for pro-poor investment in water and sanitation in urban areas of all sizes in the developing world and thus provide the means to improve significantly the volume and effectiveness of the Official Development Aid and local financial flows into the water and sanitation sector.
The UN-HABITAT Water and Sanitation Trust Fund is set up as a Technical Cooperation Trust Fund under the delegated authority of the Executive Director working with an Advisory Board which meets annually to review progress of programme activities and provide policy direction.
A Strategic Plan
Drawing on its long experience in the water and sanitation sector the Trust Fund has developed a Strategic Plan for the period 2008 – 2012. It envisions increased institutional capacity in partner countries for advocating, promoting and implementing pro-poor water and sanitation initiatives and policies with a focus on women’s needs, energy efficiency and environmental sustainability. It also promotes increased investment in water and sanitation catalysed by the Trust Fund, as well as better monitoring of the MDG water target.